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Manchester Geographical Society Map Project: Maps of Europe (#2) – Collection provenance

This post delves into the provenance of thirty-six manuscript maps of the Greek Archipelago.

This blog post is the second in a series focusing on maps of Europe from the #ManGeogSoc Map Cataloguing project. The first blog post featuring antiquarian maps of Europe can be read here.

This post delves into the provenance of thirty-six manuscript maps of the Greek Archipelago.


The images above are a small selection of the thirty-six maps of the Greek Archipelago that feature in the Manchester Geographical Society map collection. This collection of hand-drawn charts of islands in the Greek archipelago is attributed to Major Baseggio and stated as being created between 1773 and 1776. This set of maps is not detailed enough for navigation, but they do include place-names surrounding the edges of the islands, identify ports and settlements and also reference groups of hills. As they are highly decorative, they could possibly have been created as a gift. They are indeed incredibly beautiful.

An interesting aspect of these maps is that we have a number of letters that are stored together.

JRL20030900 prov 1

JRL20030903 prov 4

JRL20030901 prov 2JRL20030902 prov 3

These are from the year 1910, and are enquiring into the legitimacy of the maps. It seems that Harry Sowerbutts, who was the secretary of the Manchester Geographical Society at this time, was interested in finding out more information about this set of maps. So he wrote letters to and received replies from H. T. Crook, the Royal Geographical Society, and the Bishop of Salford at the time, Louis Charles Casartelli.

The Bishop of Salford, Louis Charles Casartelli, was educated in Classics, Oriental literature and Iranian languages. He was the founder of the Manchester Dante Society and a supporter of the Oriental, Geographical, Antiquarian and other societies. He was also instrumental in the early years of the Manchester Geographical Society. So his interests and expertise were useful to Harry Sowerbutts when carrying out an enquiry into these maps.

However, there seems to have been some disagreement. H. T. Crook was an engineer and surveyor who donated many maps to the Manchester Geographical Society map collection, including his own edited Ordnance Survey maps. He states that the Bishop may be mistaken and that the style of the maps is prior to the 16th century.

The response from E. A. Reeves, Map Curator of the Royal Geographical Society, led me to contact the British Library, as the map mentioned by Reeves, ‘Black Sea by Baseggio dated 1793’ from the British Museum catalogue, is now in the British Library collection.

This correspondence displays how map enquiries were carried out in 1910!

JRL20030891JRL20030892 back

On the back of the manuscript map of ‘Sdile’, I discovered a pencil portrait drawing of a man. Whilst researching who the creator, ‘Major Baseggio’, may be, I came across an individual named Massimino Baseggio, who has a map to his name. Massimino Baseggio lived from 1737-1813 as a painter and fresco artist within the famous Italian Baseggio family of sculptors. So it may be plausible that he used one of his maps to sketch a draft figure on the back!

With thanks to Donna Sherman, Map Curator, for her help and the Imaging team for digitising these maps and letters.

1 comment on “Manchester Geographical Society Map Project: Maps of Europe (#2) – Collection provenance

  1. Pingback: The John Rylands Library Special Collections BlogManchester Geographical Society Map Project: Maps of Europe (#3) – An interesting find

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